Ryanair posted its first quarterly profit since before Covid-19 emerged, but said it expects to incur an annual loss of up to 200 million euros as it will have to discount tickets to fill its planes over the winter.
The airline, which has operated more flights this summer than its European competitors, reported an after-tax loss of 48 million euros for the six months to September compared to an after-tax loss of 411 million euros at the same time last year.
A survey of analysts by a company predicted a loss of 43 million euros
While it did not detail its after-tax profit for the three months ending in September, in the second quarter, the €273 million loss it reported in the first quarter indicates a second-quarter profit of €225 million.
It marks the first quarterly profit since October and December 2019 – before the pandemic disrupted travel.
The budget airline, Europe’s largest, carried 39.1 million passengers in the six months to September, 54% less than the same period in 2019.
But it posted a 128% increase over the 17.1 million passengers it carried at the same time last year.
Neil Sourahan, Ryanair’s chief financial officer, told Morning Ireland that the group is already seeing a recovery as it emerges from the pandemic.
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« We saw a 128% increase in traffic in the first half of the year, and we have confidence this morning to increase our full-year traffic target to over 100 million, » he said.
He added, « Next year we expect to see a rebound in growth, as we will grow to 165 million customers, which is up from 149 million pre-Covid customers. So, yes, I think recovery is underway. »
Prices “still need to be stimulated, but I am confident that in the summer of next year we will see an increase in prices and that is why we are encouraging people to book as soon as possible,” Mr. Surhan said.
Revenue for the six-month period jumped 83% to €2.15 billion from €1.18 billion, while Ryanair’s operating costs rose 63% to €2.20 billion from €1.35 billion in 2020.
Over the six-month period, Ryanair said its average wage was just €33, down 30% from the same period last year.
Surhan said fuel costs are rising year-on-year, but said the airline is in a better position than its competition, having hedged 70% on its fuel costs balance for this fiscal year.
“We have very good coverage next year, we are about 80% surrounded in the summer of 2022 which is the peak period for this year, and 60% in the winter.
« We feel we are in a relatively good position although there is some price inflation coming, » he said.
Group CEO Michael O’Leary said Ryanair is expected to incur a loss of €100-200 million for the financial year ending March 31, adding that there was very little visibility.
Michael O’Leary said the pandemic offers the best growth opportunities in his three-decade career.
In September, it raised Ryanair’s five-year growth target to carry 225 million passengers a year by 2026, from 200 million previously projected.
The airline confirmed that it expects to return to profitability before Covid in the year ending March 2023.
She said she has seen in recent weeks a spike in bookings for mid-October and the Christmas holidays, and added that she expects this peak buoyancy to continue into Easter and summer 22.
Looking ahead, the Ryanair Group CEO said that price and revenue expectations for the winter will be challenging.
“With the booking curve remaining so close, traffic recovery will require continued price stimulus. This, along with rising unprotected small-balance costs for our fuel needs, means visibility for the remainder of FY22 is very limited,” Mr. O Leary said.
« It is therefore difficult to provide meaningful guidance for fiscal year 22, » he added.
“We believe that FY22 traffic improved to just over 100 million and (based on winter prices) we expect a loss in FY22 of between €100 million and €200 million. This outcome will primarily depend on a continued roll out of Vaccines and the absence of the harmful Covid virus – 19 evolution,” said Michael O’Leary.
Ryanair is considering delisting from the London Stock Exchange
Ryanair also said today that it is considering delisting from the London Stock Exchange due to lower trading volumes this year after British shareholders’ voting rights were restricted after Brexit.
Ryanair announced in 2020 that from January 2021 UK nationals, like all other non-EU nationals, will not be allowed to acquire ordinary shares.
The move was taken to ensure the airline remains majority-owned in the EU and retains full licensing and flight rights in the bloc now that Britain has left the EU.
Ryanair has a master listing in Euronext Dublin and American Depository Receipts (ADRs) listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.
In 2012, it lowered its London rating from outstanding to record.
« Ryanair’s board of directors is now considering the merits of maintaining the standard listing on the London Stock Exchange, » the airline said in its results statement today.
She added that « migration away from the London Stock Exchange is in line with the general trend of trading in shares of European Union companies after Britain’s exit from the European Union. »
Meanwhile, Ryanair also said today that Boeing was « fake » for forcing a twofold price increase to an order for the 737 MAX 10 during talks earlier this year.
Ryanair abruptly ended talks with the US plane maker in September over a new order of 737 Max 10 jets, worth tens of billions of dollars, due to disagreements over price.
Michael O’Leary said, describing Ryanair as Boeing’s only significant customer in Europe.
« I think Ryanair has been very close, in active negotiations for a follow-up order for the MAX 10 but Boeing has walked away from the discussions because they are looking for a price increase at a time when prices have to come down so that Boeing can get its production back, » he said.
In a separate statement, Ryanair said today that passenger numbers for October rose to 11.3 million from 4.1 million at the same time last year.
It added that October’s load factor – the number of seats it takes on each flight – rose to 84% from 73%.
Ryanair shares rose in Dublin trade Today.
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